By Oli Laperal Jr.
Opening “bell” at NAB 2014. Let the games begin.
The omnipresence of 4K and 8K systems over HD at NAB reminded me of the HD-over-SD transition a dozen years ago. As in the past, there are no shortage of nay-sayers. But the quantum leap of technology offering price points lower than previous systems, coupled with transparent ease of intuitive workflow, and Thunderbolt 2 up to 20 Gb/s via fiber optics, make the transition to UHD natural and obvious. This applies to cameras, switchers, routers, mini converters, connectors, processors, compression algorithms, and monitors. Welcome to more K.
NAB 2014 showed more than a dozen 4K/UHD cameras, some with price tags of under $5,000, a few under $2,000, whereas GoPro’s 4K Hero 3+ sells for under $400. I would not be surprised to see 4K cameras included free in better smart phones in the coming years. Many UHD cross-converters from respected manufacturers sell for a mere few hundred dollars.
Sprouting cottage industries are using carbon fiber, lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries and gyro gimbals. It seems flying drones with gyro stabilized HD micro cameras, guided by multiple GPS units, were everywhere. Substituting arm bars instead of an airframe resulted in 20+ vendors touting handheld gyro stabilized brushless gimbal camera frames. All sorts of sliders for smooth camera movement were plentiful.
Anamorphic lenses, which were once the exclusive domain of rental-only facilities for the exclusive use of top studio feature films, are now offered to everyone by Angenieux, ARRI/ZEISS, Cooke, Servicevision/Scorpio, Vantage/Hawk, and others.
NHK’s 8K camera was an unbecoming behemoth weighing more than 200 pounds while tethered with 32 coax BNC cables only a few years ago. Today, NHK’s 8K camera is only 2 pounds and fits in one’s palm. NHK’s timeline includes 8K test broadcasts in 2016, and full 8K operation by 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympics.
Laser powered projectors offer much increased brightness. Ted Schilowitz presented the Barco–which reminds me of Cinerama of decades past. Christie and NEC also showed laser powered large venue projectors, perhaps to the chagrin of cinema exhibitors who reminisce of xenon projectors past that lasted almost a lifetime, not outdated within a few short months.
H.265 HEVC for broadband offers 10 bit, 8K resolution, better color and sound, more than twice the delivery payload of H.264.
The Technical Summit on Cinema dealt with:
- Understanding the human vision system
- The new post process, from camera to consumer
- The future of Cinema.
- ACES (Academy Color Encoding System)
- The “perfect” 2D/3D screen
- 3D Light Field camera, etc.
- IMF. Interoperable mastering format
- Laser illuminated projectors. Much brighter than xenons
- Distributive creativity
- High dynamic range.
- New technologies
- Second screen and the cinema.
Emmanuel Lubeski, ASC, AMC and other crew of “Gravity,” in person and via Skype conferencing, discussed the challenges of doing the multi-award winning film, and how he interacted with the Director and other keys.
Cinematographer-turned-Director Wally Pfister discussed the film “Transcendance” to a packed house.
AJA Cion. 4K S35 APS-C sensor, global shutter, 12+ stops of dynamic range, PL lens mount, 3G and Thunderbolt connectors, Raw data.
ARRI Amira. A documentary style HD/2K camera intended for single shooter use, no Arriraw, capable of 200 FPS.
The Alexa XT has a new software update (SUP 9.1) to further enhance ARRI’s top camera with an Open Gate sensor mode (1.5:1 aspect ratio, 3.4K Arriraw resolution), ProRes 4444 up to 120 fps, DNxHD 444 up to 96 fps, ProRes Pre-recording and many more. Most TV series in the US as well as the winners for best cinematography and best VFX at the Oscars for the last three years were shot on the ARRI Alexa camera (Hugo, Life of Pi, Gravity).
Blackmagic Design. Ursa 4K camera with 10” monitor, S35 global shutter, Raw / ProRes data recording, interchangeable lens mount.
Or choose BMD’s new Studio 4K camera. Micro four thirds lens mount, 10” VF, bi-directional optical fiber.
Canon updates software for the C100, C300 and C500 4K cameras. Canon announced the manufacture and delivery of their 100,000,000th EF lens.
For-A 4K Super Slo-Mo camera does 4K up to 900 FPS. 11 stops of dynamic range, Raw.
JVC. GY-HM890 HD camcorders, streams via Wi-Fi or a LTE modem. 4 styles of 4K cameras and prototypes: wifi, HD, DSLR and handheld.
Panasonic. 4K Varicam 35, S35 sensor, PL lens mount, 14 stop dynamic range, 240 FPS in HD.
Lumix DMC-GH4 DSLR. 4K camera with 4K recorder, micro four thirds 16 MP MOS sensor,
RED Digital showed various camera upgrades paths, up to the Dragon 6K sensor. RED also showed how 6K Raw Dragon images from their mini stage fashion show printed nicely onto extra large posters. The RED theater showed interesting 6K Raw footage with HDR.
Sony: Upgrades the F-65, F55 and F5 cameras. Shoulder mount/ENG cradle for F5/55. A7s DSLR. Palm size, full frame sensor, 4K video, 120 FPS, ISO 409,600, OLED VF, etc.
Angenieux: New Optimo zoom lenses: DP 25-250 mm T3.5,
Optimo Style 16-40 T2.8, and the Optimo Style 30-76 T2.8
Arri UWZ 9.5-18 mm T2.9 rectilinear wide angle zoom
Canon Cinema EOS prime lenses
Leica Summilux-C T1.4 and Summicron-C T2.0 primes.
Schneider Cine-Xenar III prime lenses.
Sigma. 35, 50, and 85 mm F1.4 prime. 18-35 mm F1.8 zoom lens.
Tokina 11-16 mm T3, 16-28 mm T3 wide angle zoom lenses.
Zeiss CZ.2 15-30 mm T2.9 full frame zoom lens.
Aadlyn. Stronger LED cluster spotlights.
K5600. 9K Alpha flat HMI.
Litepanels. Inca tungsten LED Sola daylight LED.
Nila: Zaila, Varsa, Boxer and SL LED cluster lights.
AJA. 4K and HD I/O via Thunderbolt 2.0. Capture and playback.
Assimilate Scratch Ver 8: Dailies system for versioning, coloring, conforming and finishing.
BlackMagic Design, whose booth was always packed: Cintel film scanner, full features with Da Vinci Resolve. <$30K. UltraStudio 4K capture and playback via Thunderbolt 2 6G-SDI.
Cinema 4D. updated 3D modeling, animation, 3D motion design, visual effects software.
Monitors / on-board recorders
Atomos. Shogun 7” 4K recorder and playback.
Codex onboard for Panasonic 4K Varicam
Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q. Records and playback 4K Raw.
Transvideo Starlite 5″ ultra-slim OLED touch-screen monitor
Anton Bauer and Sachtler introduced new Lithium-Ion batteries
and intelligent fast chargers..
BMD Atem 4K switchers.
Corning offers fiber optic connectivity at 20 Gbps, USB 3.0 at 5 Gbps. Denz and Wooden Camera showed PL lens mount modification for the new BMD 4K camera.
I stayed a few days after NAB 2014 to play tourist and see Las Vegas’ latest attraction: High Roller, the world’s highest ferris wheel observation deck.
Oli Laperal Jr runs RSVP Film Studios (www.rsvpfilm.com) in the Philippines, with film production and rental associates in various Southeast Asian countries. Oli can be reached at: olilaperaljr (at) gmail.com